A housing provider has pleaded guilty to failing to manage the risks from legionella, a build-up of which was discovered at one of its sheltered-accommodation schemes in Essex.
Genesis Housing Group was fined £12,000 plus costs of £17,143 at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on 4 June following an investigation by the town council’s environmental health department. EHOs took action when they were notified of a case of Legionnaires’ disease by the Health Protection Agency on 10 October 2007, following the admission to Basildon hospital of a resident of Grevatt Lodge, a sheltered-housing scheme in Pitsea.
Initial sampling by Basildon EHOs did reveal some positive readings for legionella. Senior EHO Mike Stone, who led the investigation, told SHP: “Many aspects of the system that existed at the time of the notification were conducive to the growth of legionella, such as: uninsulated cold and hot-water pipes running close together resulting in favourable water temperatures existing in the pipes; uncovered header tanks in poor condition; presence of floating calcium and biofilm; and other signs of severe water stratification.”
Genesis Housing Group was charged under s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 in that between September 2004 and October 2007 it breached its duty to ensure the health and safety of non-employees by failing to assess and manage the risks from legionella at Grevatt Lodge.
The Group said it had engaged a third-party contractor to undertake a programme of risk assessments for the water systems in around 80 of their schemes, but EHOs’ investigation revealed that the significant findings of these were not implemented. Genesis attributed this to a breakdown in management and communication, as there had been a number of staff changes, as well as internal issues with the delivery of the assessments. €ﾨ€ﾨ
Councillor Richard Moore, cabinet member for Development Control and€ﾨCustomer Services at Basildon Council, commented: “This case highlights the need for these types of assessments to ensure [duty-holders] have adequate measures in place for controlling such risks, particularly where there is a vulnerable population.€ﾨ€ﾨ“Any business where these types of risks may be encountered should be aware€ﾨof the health and safety implications around Legionnaires’ disease. Sadly,€ﾨGenesis Housing Group did not take this risk seriously and failed to manage€ﾨthe risks of this potentially fatal disease.”
Meanwhile, Basildon hospital itself is the subject of a legionella investigation, after the death of a patient from Legionnaires’ disease on 11 March this year. The hospital is working closely with the HSE and the Health Protection Agency to identify further preventative action it can take.
In a statement, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Trust said that since the first case of Legionnaire’s disease was discovered at the hospital in 2002, it has spent “in the region of £2 million on remedial works to the hospital’s plumbing infrastructure and installed a strict regime of continual chemical dosing, thermal disinfections and comprehensive monitoring of the water-distribution system”.
Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders
In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.
Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.